The Spirit of Columbus Award, affectionately known as The Jerries®, was established in 2013 to honor aviatrix Jerrie Mock, a visionary who ignored the doubts of others and blazed into history as the first woman to fly solo around the world.
That same undeniable spirit was evident in the recent collaborative effort to keep the Columbus Crew SC in Columbus. Since playing its first game in 1996, the Crew has become an important thread in the fabric of our city.
Though many believed a move to Austin was inevitable, thanks to the Herculean efforts of many people throughout our city and beyond, and a dogged determination and refusal to back down, 2019 dawned with an announcement that the team would remain in Columbus.
On April 17, The Columbus Foundation named those who led and contributed mightily to the effort to “Save the Crew” as the 2019 recipient of The Spirit of Columbus Award during a celebration at the Foundation.
“The bold action and iron will of those who worked so impressively together to save the Crew is a shining example of the spirit that moves Columbus forward. The group demonstrates many of the same qualities that Jerrie did when she set out on her journey—perseverance against the odds, and a drive to accomplish something that’s never been done before.”
Douglas F. Kridler, President and CEO of the Columbus Foundation
Among those honored at the Foundation were:
- Dr. Pete Edwards, Jr., co-owner of the Crew
- Columbus Mayor Andy Ginther
- President of Columbus City Council Shannon Hardin
- President of the Franklin County Commissioners Marilyn Brown
- Alex Fischer and Steve Lyons of the Columbus Partnership
- City Auditor Megan Kilgore
- City Attorney Zach Klein
- Key members of the Save The Crew community volunteer movement
- Senior Vice Chancellor of the Ohio Department of Education Mike Duffey
- Director of the Department of Development for the City of Columbus Steve Schoeny and advisors
- OSU Alumni Association President Jim Smith
- President of Pelotonia Doug Ulman
Not able to attend but also included in the award was Governor Mike DeWine.
On behalf of the winners of the award, Dr. Edwards accepted a “Jerrie,” a bronze miniature of the Jerrie Mock sculpture at John Glenn Columbus International Airport, created by local artist Renate Fackler. Mock, a Bexley mother of three, took off from Port Columbus on March 19, 1964. She landed her Cessna, “Spirit of Columbus,” safely back in Columbus on April 17 after 29 days, 21 stops, and more than 23,000 miles.
“Sitting with the community of fans in Nordecke and cheering on the Crew has been a piece of what makes Columbus our city,” said Morgan Hughes, one of the leaders of Save The Crew volunteers. “We would not give up. Even when there seemed little chance for the Crew to be saved, we kept on saying to the world: ‘This is not over. Tell everyone you know.’”
To mark the collaborative efforts put forth by so many to keep the Crew in Columbus and in celebration of the Foundation’s 75th anniversary, grants were made in the amount of $7,500 each to the following organizations:
- The Columbus Crew SC Foundation, in celebration of the ownership, staff, and players of the Columbus Crew
- Celebrate One, in honor of Mayor Andy Ginther and the city administration’s efforts
- Columbus Works, in honor of Franklin County’s role
- Prosecutorial Impact, in honor of City Attorney Zach Klein, then State Attorney General DeWine, and Mike Duffey
- United Negro College Fund, in honor of Shannon Hardin and the Columbus City Council’s leadership
- Goodwill Columbus, in honor of City Auditor Megan Kilgore
- Future Ready, in honor of the Columbus Partnership
- YMCA in support of its work at Community Shelter Board’s Van Buren Shelter, in honor of the volunteers of Save The Crew
Mock was named the first recipient of The Spirit of Columbus Award in 2013, along with Jeni Britton Bauer and David Brown. Recent award recipients include the late Denny Griffith, former Mayor Michael B. Coleman, Tanny Crane, Jane Grote Abell, Michelle Alexander, and, last year, Columbus’ leading African American artists.
“This moment and this award are an opportunity to celebrate all that we’ve accomplished together. It was a massive effort and a significant achievement for Columbus that will pay dividends for a long time to come.”
Dr. Pete Edwards, new co-owner of the Columbus Crew SC